By: Namrata Dutta, Manna Project Coordinator
I am Namrata Dutta, hosting the Manna Project for the Sycamore Canyon School garden. I hope all of you are safe and sound after the eventful last week.
Our Manna Project was started with the intention of growing vegetables to make a steady contribution to the local food bank situated in Thousand Oaks. Our garden is completely organic, with soil, compost, fertilizer and seeds, and labor … all organic.
We meet every Friday morning at 8:30 to show some love to our garden which sometimes might include trimming away at over growths but mostly trying our best to grow vegetables in our planters. We are helped by our visiting classrooms three Fridays every month. The classrooms that come out to help us are Mrs. Baron’s 4th graders and Mrs. Smith’s 6th graders every month. Thank you to these amazing kids and teachers.
The Manna Project in the garden educates the students in so many ways… it is a hands on experience (for some of them 1st time) to learn about the science of nature and plants and then agriculture. It is a wonderful experience observing their reactions in touching soil, sometimes the worms who have made it their home and then being amazed by the fact that a tiny seed gets food from soil (which still amazes me) to grow into a beautiful robust plant. Of course it is not as easy as it sounds…. the challenges are plentiful for the tiny seed to grow. It can be the dry Santa Ana winds which can wither any sapling or make the soil dry and dusty like the dust bowl or it can be our occasional critter visitors who of course adores our garden. I have to give it to their determination…. they gnawed through almost all our rabbit deterring cages we had built last year. They found food on only one planter but with sheer determination checked out all the other barren planters too. It was a surprise to us because last year these same cages kept them away for us to have bountiful harvest.
This October we weeded and loosened the soil, added fertile soil and compost, and fertilizer too. We then planted cauliflower, cabbage, turnip, carrot, onion, chard, rutabaga, lettuce seeds. We are hoping to see some crops growing, but with the extreme dry conditions I’m hoping our watering system will be able to keep up.
Hoping by the end of this year, to have some vegetables to harvest.